January 22, 2006


Israeli Hints at Preparation to Stop Iran (JOSEF FEDERMAN, 1/22/06, AP)

Israel's defense minister hinted Saturday that the Jewish state is preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program, but said international diplomacy must be the first course of action.

"Israel will not be able to accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing," Shaul Mofaz said.

His comments at an academic conference stopped short of overtly threatening a military strike but were likely to add to growing tensions with Iran.

The Realist crowd has been pushing the line that we may just have to learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, ignoring the reality that our response to Iran isn't in our hands but in Israel's. Because we wish to avoid a wider war in the Middle East, that the foreign policy establishment thinks could be provoked by Israel bombing Iran, we'll take military action ourselves if Israel just threatens convincingly enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2006 9:00 AM

What can one say? The logic of it all is so awesomely Juddesque.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 22, 2006 9:25 AM

Do you think George Bush would tell the Israelis to go ahead and bomb Iran themselves because he can't afford to get involved?

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2006 9:31 AM

It's about 1000 miles from Tel Aviv to Tehran. Does Israel possess planes that can go the distance and back? Baghdad is about half way. Will we let them land and refuel? If we help Israel, won't we be (and rightfully so) blamed as co-conspirators?

Posted by: AllenS at January 22, 2006 9:58 AM

They have ballistic missiles easily capable of hitting Iran.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2006 10:03 AM

They can refuel them coming and going. If they don't have tankers now they can lease them, as we did.

Personally I'd like us to choose the time and place, but if Hillary looks like she'll win in 2008 the Israelies will make the move on their own timetable probably in late 2007.

Posted by: Genecis at January 22, 2006 11:45 AM

don't look at the waving hand. this isn't going to be a replay of the osirak bombing. other than a plane based bombing, anything else is possible. as i have said before, look for a huge "accident" to occur in tehran.

Posted by: toe at January 22, 2006 1:05 PM


To quote the great RR, "There they go again."

Posted by: erp at January 22, 2006 1:50 PM

Since we control Iraq airspace, there's no way Israel could hit Iran without our knowledge and OK. So we get blamed even if Israel does it.

But they might not be able to. Flight distance is one problem. Another is that Iran has learned the lesson of Osirak, and has dispersed, hidden, and buried their nuke sites, often near or under civilian facilities such as hospitals. And Israeli ballistic missiles would not, AFAIK, be accurate enough to do the job.

The best bet might be a decapitation strike aimed at the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard, and hope that the new regime would forswear nukes.

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 22, 2006 6:11 PM

Too many are letting the Iranian saber-rattling spook them into calls for unreasonable actions. Just because Iran starts its centrifuges does not mean they are close to a functioning bomb (see here for instance). They face difficult technical problems which they may not be able to overcome without outside assistance. Mossad apparently thinks they are about 3 years from a functional bomb. Even when they have a bomb, they are a long way from having nuclear tipped missiles (see here).

It seems more likely they are trying to provoke some action in order to consolidate their position inside Iran. If this is the case, then a patient program of destabilization, via insurgents from Afghanistan and Iraq, and economic sanctions may be the best policy.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2006 7:33 PM

Would you trust us to keep the approval secret if Israel decides to "rock and roll? If they do decide such they'll let us know as they approach Iran via the Persian Gulf. They're looking at survival, not diplomacy.

JDW's on the right track but we only have about 18 months at the most. If Iran's unstable now, a future strike may destabilize them altogether.

Posted by: Genecis at January 22, 2006 9:41 PM

We would do it ourselves rather than let them--that's the point.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2006 9:45 PM